Have no fear!
You don’t have to put your child in a plastic bubble when you find out about his or her allergies. While it’s normal for parents to want to protect their child from harm, overreacting to their allergies is not the answer. You can’t shield them from every little thing that may cause them harm. With allergy season approaching, it’s key to know the difference between an allergy and a cold. They can present with very similar symptoms, but these differences can help you tell one from the other:
- Allergies don’t cause a fever or body aches, unlike a cold or flu.
- Colds usually produce nasal discharge that is greenish and thick, where as discharge from an allergy is clear and thin.
- Colds usually last seven to 10 days, while allergy symptoms last until an allergen is removed.
- Allergic reactions most likely cause rashes.
There are many different types of allergies; here are the most common:
- Cow’s milk
- Pollen (Hay Fever)
- Animal Dander
- Dust Mites
- Cleaning Supplies
It’s not advisable to diagnose allergies yourself. Confirm allergens through an allergy test, either from your pediatrician or an allergist.
We spend about 90% of our lives indoors, so it is important that your home be as allergen-free as possible for your child. Here are some at-home remedies to
help avoid allergens:
- Make sure your air-conditioner is kept clean and that filters are changed on a regular basis.
- Carpets or upholstered furniture collect dust, dirt, etc; consider replacing or cleaning them regularly.
- Dust and vacuum often.
- Put a damp cloth over your eyes.
- Check food labels.
- Honey has been found to be a natural remedy for allergies; give one teaspoon a day to children over one years old.
- Most importantly, have a good relationship with your pediatrician and allergist.
Here are some important questions to ask your doctor:
- How do you know my child has an allergy? How can you confirm the diagnosis?
- Does my child need allergy shots, further allergy testing, or other treatment? Does he or she need to carry an Epi-Pen?
- Which allergy symptoms are serious enough to warrant calling the doctor and scheduling a visit?
- At what point should my child see an allergist in addition to a pediatrician for allergy treatment?
- Is there anything else I should be doing to help control the allergies, such as dusting the house more often or taking other environmental measures?
- If my child is allergic to one thing, how likely is he or she to be allergic to something else?
Because school is a place where you can’t physically control what your child does, it is important to take more precautions. It is essential that you notify your child’s teachers and coaches, and most importantly, that you teach your child to be responsible for his or her own allergies. Just because your child is allergic to peanuts doesn’t mean that the world revolves around his or her allergies—remember, the child next to him may be allergic to everything but peanuts.
Here are some precautionary measures parents can take:
- Instill in your child at an early age the importance of avoiding detrimental allergens.
- Pack your child’s lunch, so you know what he or she is eating.
- Make sure an Epi-Pen is accessible, if needed.
- Check pollen counts in your area.
- Inform your child’s teachers, caregivers, schools, etc., of his other allergies.